May 8, 2013
A friend just sent me this tweet and asked if I thought it was too harsh:
“I didn’t get anything out of worship this morning.” “Well, we weren’t worshipping you.” –Chris Bowater
I replied that no, it was not too harsh. I think our American consumer mindset to both church and the worship service is dangerously selfish and sinful. We live in the “restaurant era” and tend to approach church like a restaurant when we ought to approach it like a family meal at home. I was thinking the other day about my kids around the dinner table. Their selfish appetites demand that the food given them be their favorite, or else they will fuss and refuse to eat. We have a little ditty that eventually helps them change their minds. “You get what you get and you don’t throw a fit even if it’s not your favorite.” By the time they are four or five they start to get it. While my older kids still express their opinions about the food, most of the time they will eat it, be nourished and even be thankful to their mother who carefully and lovingly prepared it for them.
Now, think about coming to the worship service demanding that the worship music & preaching be our favorite style. If you think that’s bad enough, what if we consider that this meal (the worship service) isn’t primarily for us? Certainly there is edification for the believer that flows out of corporate worship experience. But I think we can all agree that corporate worship is an opportunity for us to praise God, especially the singing portion! We are producers of worship, not consumers of worship. It’s all about him and it’s all for him! It is an offering we bring to him. And when we come with that mindset and a determination to “give” him praise and “give” him our undivided attention, we will find that we are being edified, satisfied, and are overflowing with thanksgiving.
I do understand and acknowledge that true worshipers of God come to the worship service with a longing to encounter him. In the best sense, that’s what we want to “get out of worship.” Toward that end I pray and plan and lead. I always hope to facilitate a significant meeting with God for every desiring heart, and even for those who come without that desire. In fact I plan and pray with great passion toward that end. Where will you find the worship team right up to the moment before the service begins? Praying together that as we bring God praise in the corporate setting, that our hearts will be changed and that God will be glorified. Style and atmosphere matters and we pay attention to those details, hoping to draw people to worship God, but they don’t matter most. What matters most is what we bring and what we leave with having met with our Lord.